Our 1921 Bungalow

Well as I detailed in my last post, my life is still a little chaotic right now.  But it’s all good — things are starting to shape up and we are gaining a bit of confidence in this whole renovation thing. Someone pointed out to me that my last post sounded a little depressing, but honestly, while a pain, this whole renovation thing has really taught me of power of community and that we really ARE capable of so much more than we realize.

There was a brief moment in time between when we finished the cabinets/appliances/walls and started installing the floors when my kitchen was at least somewhat usable, and I made these cupcakes — but I didn’t get a photo and I think they need a little tweaking before I’d post them.

But I hate to be neglecting this blog, so I may as well just start posting about what I’m up to!  So allow me to tell you a little about my house and what I’ve learned along the way.

After finishing up with grad school for the most part, my husband and I decided we wanted to move closer to DC where I work.  The cost of living is pretty limiting here, so we decided to look into the more affordable Prince George’s county, which I was already a little familiar with having gone to school here at the University of Maryland.

Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges, but once we peeled back the layers of 24 hour liquor stores and check cashing outlets, we discovered beautiful, historic homes inside tight-knit, progressive communities, all within bike-able and metro-able distance to downtown, at almost unheard of prices around here.  We were sold.

It took about 6 months of looking, but we ultimately settled on a fixer-upper in the city of Mount Rainier.

Around here, there are a lot of old, many foreclosed, houses around here that are bought by investors who then tear out the beautiful interior and replace it with generic, construction-grade granite countertops and vinyl flooring.  We knew we were getting a project with this house, but we liked the idea of making it our own and keeping it’s period character intact.  Nearly 3 months into it, it’s been stressful, but so far no regrets :).

We are the fifth owners of this house, and we were able to track down the last surviving member of the original family that built this house in 1921.  He is 87 years old and lives in a nursing home.  We have exchanged letters and emails about the some of the original details in the house and have learned some interesting facts — for example, the wood paneling behind the fireplace was not in fact an unfortunate 1970s decor choice, but was installed to cover up damage from an incident where Christmas stockings caught on fire!  We have some old photos and it is really amazing to think about all the history this house has seen.

When we first moved in, we had some ideas about what we wanted to change right away, but it’s funny how these things evolve once you get in and start using the place.  So it turned out the kitchen was the first to go.  More on that later.  My house is a complete and utter mess right now, so I will wait until this renovation is done to post pictures and show it off — hopefully that won’t be more than another week or two!  In the mean time, keep reading for more about my house and renovations!

-R

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